Dow Terneuzen is a very diverse organization, with more than 3600 employees and over 50 nationalities. In order to create an environment where all employees are respected, valued, have equal rights and a sense of belonging, a lot of attention is given to inclusion and diversity.
A way to improve the ideology about inclusion is by using Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These are voluntary, employee-led groups with the aim to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. We talked about these ERGs with Liza Adeyemi (Treasury Manager at Dow Terneuzen) and Amit Shah (Strategy, Business Development, Growth & Sustainability Leader at Dow Terneuzen), both co-chair of MIX, a team that works across all ERGs.
Support inclusion by Employee Resource Groups
“Within Dow we have 10 different ERGs: Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN), Global African Affinity Network (GAAN), Asian Diversity Network (ADN), LGBTQ+ and Ally Resource Group
(GLAD), Hispanic Latin Network (HLN), Disability Employee Network (DEN), Middle East/North Africa Intercultural Network (MENA), Veterans Network (VETNET) ,Employees 50+ years of age (PR!ME) and Employees who have been with the company for less than 8 years (RISE).
These ERG networks are linked to ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender and disabilities. Each ERG has a purpose. For instance, RISE is for new employees coming into the organization. It aims to foster positive integration of new employees, enabling them to contribute their full potential faster and influence the Dow culture through their unique voice. Another example is PR!ME, this ERG is intended for employees with an age over 50 years. There is a general tendency to think that once you are over 50, your career is almost done, but within PR!ME they strive to support and make a difference by ensuring a level playing field in which employees can compete irrespective of age and that the company leverages the experiences and maximizes the contribution of this group of employees to deliver growth for the company”, Amit explains.
“Every employee is encouraged to join an ERG. You can either join an ERG where members of that ERG share the same characteristics, life experience or heritage as you or you can broaden your horizons by being an ally of an ERG that is different to you. This way you learn and engage with others and get perspectives from all angles which creates something really enriching”, Liza says.
She continues: “These ERGs are Dow’s tool to drive change. When you have all the ERGs working on a purpose, they help the company to be better. Because they identify the places where policies and practices are excluding a group of people or not taking into account their full potential or experiences. The Disability Employee Network for instance amongst other things looks at accessibility (as an example, they look at where ramps are needed, or necessary adjustments to workstation, they ensure that parking places are arranged accordingly). These are things you might not think about if it’s not your own life experience. So, when all ERGs get together and share their own story, the company can take them into account and therefore be better at serving all employees.” Amit adds: “This way we create a business environment where everyone is free to speak, and everyone’s voice is heard. Employees can bring their whole selves to work which improves their job experience.”
Local community projects and funds
“The ERGs also hold lots of activities, events and programs. We bring in internal and external speakers, organize cultural events and educational series to raise awareness on political or society themes for instance. Next to that, we also support many local projects. This can be done via funds like the ‘All-In ERG Fund’. Which puts aside a significant amount of money each year for community related projects across the globe, Or the ‘Dow Promise Fund’ which is specifically targeted to communities that have a low income. All Dow employees can submit sponsor requests for these projects. For instance, the Hispanic Latin Network is creating an international library so people can get material in their own language. Another example is a school project, where we are arranging (by donating equipment) with school boards for schools in the Netherlands, Africa and Germany to interact and do activities together. This way we help to expand the children’s cultural awareness”, Liza tells.
Creating a better workplace
“Being part of an ERG gives a sense of belongingness, it feels like being part of a family. It gives me satisfaction because I gain a lot by interacting with people of different backgrounds and it helps the company to outpace in the market and to be successful”, Amit tells. “In addition to what Amit says, it also gives me the ability to educate others on my experience, to talk about my struggles and the challenges I’m facing. It also gives me an opportunity to learn about other cultures and perspectives. But primarily I see it as an opportunity to make changes for future generations. We have an opportunity to be heard and really change things, making the workplace a better place for everyone!” Liza concludes.